Kermit Cintron has had some kind of psychedelic career, so when a fight against Antwone Smith that most scored as a close contest turned out to be a wide decision victory according to two of three judges, it barely was a blip of weirdness. There was something so routine about the weirdness of Cintron’s win on Friday Night Fights that disappointed me; hell, bizarre scorecards are so frequent in boxing lately that they’re hardly an anomaly.
This was a legitimately close fight in St. Charles, Mo., in my view, exacerbated by some of the dynamics that routinely confound judges. Smith barked with each shot — which goes over well in Missouri (see: Devon Alexander) — did good body work, controlled space and shoe-shined. Cintron threw a recorded 400 more punches than Smith — Really, CompuBox? — and landed the harder ones more often.
I had it a draw, giving Cintron rounds 1-3 and 7-8. Friend of the site David Schraub only gave Cintron 1, 7 and 8. As a commentator for ESPN2, Bernard Hopkins gave Cintron 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9. So, you can see, there were a lot of debatable rounds. Yet the judges had it 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 for Cintron. OK.
I’m not sure how Smith looks coming out of this. He was a rising upset artist who had become a legitimate contender at welterweight before getting upset himself last year, and against Cintron he performed admirably against a superior talent and physical specimen. Since there’s an argument he deserved to win, maybe he hangs on to some status. But it’s nebulous status.
Cintron comes out of it with the win, but it’s about as damaging a win as you could acquire. Was anyone impressed by Cintron tonight? His once-vaunted power hasn’t manifested itself in a while; it barely existed here, as in his recent loss to Carlos Molina. He gave up space to Smith for what appeared to be no reason, allowing the fight to go inside. Smith’s determination had something to do with that. But Cintron seemed almost eager to get on the inside with Smith, which was a strategic mistake. It also didn’t seem like he was trying to prove some kind of macho point. I think he just decided it was easier to stand with Smith than work to maintain distance. And he flat gave away the 10th round, despite trainer Ronnie Shields imploring to throw everything he had, knowing the scores could be close.
Whether at welterweight or junior middleweight — and this fight, despite being hyped as a return to welter for Cintron, was fought at around 149 lbs. — Cintron’s chance of making maximum use of his gifts has dwindled to damn near zero. Granted, Smith was a tough, risky opponent. But Cintron had opportunities Friday night to be better than he was. He wasn’t. Story of his career. (With a twist of weirdness.)